Reading to your toddler and language development

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 05:09pm
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The latest science tells us that reading to our children does much more than please and delight them. It helps them to build a large vocabulary and a range of language skills such as good listening and comprehension skills, which will help him learn to communicate and which are also related to children's reading ability as they grow.

As a parent, you can do many things to turn story time into learning time:

Open a book and read to your child to introduce her to basic aspects of reading, such as the way to hold a book and how to turn a page.

Read favourite books again and again. This will help her learn vocabulary. With enough repetition, she may also learn to tell the story on her own. Praise her for the new words she has learned and for her good memory.

Stop often and ask your toddler questions about what you have just read, and what might happen next. This will help him develop listening skills and increase his comprehension of what you are reading. He'll also begin to learn how stories are organized.

Give clues about how reading works. Point to the words and pictures on the page as you read aloud to show him how the words go from left to right across the page, how words are separated by spaces, how words are made up of letters, and how pictures of objects correspond to words.

There are other ways you can promote language and pre-literacy skills in your child, such as pointing to and naming objects around the room to increase comprehension and vocabulary, saying nursery rhymes and playing rhyming games to help him manipulate sounds, and having conversations during everyday activities.

Knowing you are teaching your child as well as pleasing him, is one of the real rewards of parenting.

Content provided by the Canadian Language and LIteracy Research Network.

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Help! My preschooler doesn’t like to speak!

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 01:31pm
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Some children seem quiet and reluctant to talk. Some don't naturally and easily use language to express their needs and wants, to comment on things, to get information or to entertain others. Other children may use language comfortably, but only in familiar situations. Being quiet in new situations is very common in children, particularly young ones. But you may be concerned that your child is too quiet, too much of the time.

There are many reasons that a child may be reluctant to speak. Two fairly common reasons are:

  • When placed in a new situation, your child may be worried about what to do, or be concerned about being away from home or from parents. For a child, deciding not to speak is one way to feel some control over an unfamiliar, somewhat scary situation.
  • Your child may feel pressured or embarrassed to speak, like the fear that many of us feel of talking in front of a crowd.


The important thing to remember is that your child isn't trying to embarrass you by not cooperating, or "acting dumb." She is just dealing with the situation as best as she can, so be patient and understanding. If the situation doesn't improve, or gets worse - for example, you notice your child only talks to one parent, or not at all while at day care - it's time to get some help. Consult your child's physician, or call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Does your child refuse to speak? Does she start talking after warming up to new people? Leave a comment below and share you experiences with other parents who are just like you!

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Travelling during the holidays with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 08:13pm
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A long car ride to visit a family member can be stressful but it is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to enjoy each other’s company. Capitalize on this time to laugh and play games. This will not only make a tedious journey more entertaining but you will also get a better understanding of how your child is thinking and what is important to her.

When you let your child take the lead in suggesting or inventing her own play activities you are sending an important message. Following rather than always directing tells her that you like and respect her ideas. This will encourage her to continue thinking and making more decisions. Here are some ideas for interactive play for you and your child during the drive:

  • Guessing games – these games encourage young children to observe and think about how objects function in their environment as well as give practice in language. You start off the game but then let your child take the lead so that you have to guess what’s in her mind. Some examples include:
    • “I Spy with My Little Eye – something that is blue”
    • “I’m thinking of something that starts with the letter ‘A’ ”
    • “I’m a spoon – what am I used for?”
  • Storytelling – listening to a story without a picture book takes a lot of concentration and imagination. Create your own story together by starting off with “Once upon a time there was a girl who…”. Invite your child to add a sentence to the story. Respond with a new sentence and keep this pattern going until your child has had enough of story creating.
  • Creating silly rhymes – use the “phonic families” to devise funny sentences, e.g. the cat sat on a hat looking for a bat; the goat put on his coat and swam to the boat which wouldn’t float.
  • Counting – understanding the concepts of numbers takes a lot of concrete practice. Ask how many cars of a particular colour can she count? Let her choose the colour and help her when she gets lost with the sequence of numbers; ask your child what else would she like to count as she is looking out the window?
  • Reading signs – point out common signs that your preschooler may be aware of and beginning to recognize such as “Stop” or “Exit”.
  • Singing songs – encourage your child to pick her favourite tunes and sing together. Also, bring favourite tapes to listen to in the car.
  • Talking – seize this opportunity to have a conversation about things that you don’t always have time for, e.g. who she likes to play with at school/child care; what is her favourite thing to do during the day at school/child care; what was something funny that happened this week? The topics are endless and allow your child to give you a glimpse into her life.

How do you keep your children occupied in the car? Do you play games and sing songs? Share your travelling experiences with other parents by posting a comment below!

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Giving your baby a safe bath

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 02:18pm
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Bathtime is a great time to bond with your child while having fun doing it. Even the youngest of babies benefit from a bathtime routine. Below you’ll find out how you can prepare to give you baby a safe bath.

Safety Tips

  • For your baby's first bath at home, be sure to ask for help if you are not feeling confident. Call your child's doctor's office and ask for assistance if you are feeling at all unsure.
  • Never leave your baby unattended in the bath or on a table. Children can drown in as little as 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) of water.
  • Obtain instructions from your child's doctor for care of your child's umbilical cord and circumcision. Take the time when talking with your child's doctor or nurse to make sure you understand what is needed. Bath time or diaper change time is a good opportunity for regular cleaning of these areas.
  • If you are bathing your baby on a surface, make sure it is a comfortable height for you. Place a pad, blanket and towel next to the bath for a comfortable spot for your baby.
  • ALWAYS test the temperature of the water before placing your baby in the bath. You can test bath water by putting an elbow in the water to make sure the water is warm, not hot.
  • Always keep supplies, such as soap, within reach.
  • When reaching for anything, always keep one hand on your baby.


  • A bathtub may not be the right choice for your newborn. Wiping your baby with warm water using wash cloths on a soft towel is often enough in the first few days.

Before starting your baby's bath, organize all the supplies you need including:

  • 2 large soft towels;
  • diapers;
  • any creams or oils that you use;
  • clean clothes;
  • tub;
  • washcloths;
  • baby soap and shampoo; and
  • cotton balls.

You may find bath time more pleasurable if you remember that:

  • for many babies, bath time is fun - babies love to stretch and splash in warm water;
  • babies love skin-to-skin touch - massaging your baby during bath time is just one more chance for you and your baby to feel secure; and
  • babies feel relaxed after a bath - sometimes a bath is just what a fussy baby may need - everyone will feel relaxed.
  • Newborn babies require head support throughout their bath.

The best way to bath a baby is to start at the top and work down:

  • wash your baby's face first, gently with a fresh washcloth;
  • your baby's eyes should be wiped gently from nose to cheek with a soft washcloth, using a different corner for each wipe;
  • wash your baby's scalp using a mild baby shampoo - your baby's head will need to be raised and supported to wash off the shampoo;
  • wash your baby's abdomen, arms and legs next; and
  • wash the genital areas last.
  • Transfer your baby out of the tub to the towel on a pad, next to where you are giving your baby her bath.
  • Wrap your baby and gently pat him dry. Be sure to dry all of the folds and creases in his skin.
  • Once she is dry, diaper your baby first, being careful that the top of the diaper does not irritate the cord. Avoid the use of baby powder, talc and cornstarch because they get into the air and, if inhaled, could damage your baby's lungs.
  • Put your baby in a cozy sleeper.

After your baby's bath is the perfect time to cut his nails - preferably with blunt-ended scissors when he is asleep.

Video Alert!
Watch our Baby Bathtime video which will show you how to use Comfort, Play & Teach to make the most of bathtime, watch now.






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